Bob Amster

Principal, Retail Technology Group

Mr. Amster has served the retail and distribution industries as both a Consultant and Systems Manager since 1971. He currently heads The Retail Technology Group, an independent consulting firm.

Bob was a Senior Manager with the Northeast Retail Consulting Group of Ernst & Young. Prior to joining Ernst & Young, Mr. Amster held Systems Management positions for large retailers such as Kmart Apparel, Waldenbooks, and Caldor. In addition, he has consulted to retail, distribution, and software companies since 1985.

Bob’s hands-on experience encompasses strategic planning; operational reviews; and systems design and implementation. He specializes in needs assessments; software analyses, selection and implementation; operational procedures and process improvement; and systems integration. His project experience includes numerous engagements in the evaluation, selection and implementation of merchandising, financial, warehouse and store systems packages.

Additionally, Bob has served as interim head of IT for Barneys New York and Shane Company, and as interim head of the Store Systems Group for Savers, Inc.

Bob also has provided due diligence assistance to a number of private equity firms and has served the advisory board of retailers and of a number of e-commerce merchants, to whom he provided retail industry perspective.

  • Posted on: 02/19/2019

    Are disappointing holiday sales numbers a harbinger of things to come?

    I have it on pretty good authority that the sampling by the Census Bureau was not representative, and the numbers are, in fact, better than what has been published. Take it all with a grain of salt this time.
  • Posted on: 02/15/2019

    Will Google’s modular tech change how consumers buy smartphones?

    If it is done elegantly, it could be revolutionary. I suspect that the cost of the initial phone may be higher but the promise of being able to extend the life of the phone may outweigh the cost.
  • Posted on: 02/13/2019

    Retail leaders need to care more about tech

    We know that, over the last 10 years, retail heads of IT have had to become more businesspeople than they had been before. That is how they got a seat at the executive table. I believe that a good CEO needs to have an intellectual understanding of the importance and benefits of information technology in their business. That, however, does not necessarily mean that they should understand the details of technology in order to successfully run a successful company.
  • Posted on: 02/12/2019

    Barneys to become first major retailer to open legal weed shop

    We have now had designer jeans, designer sneakers and now we can have a designer bong? I love it! Be the first on your block...
  • Posted on: 02/12/2019

    Barneys to become first major retailer to open legal weed shop

    In the words of Wings (Paul McCartney and Linda Eastman) "We're gonna get high, high, high in the midday sun." I don't think cannabis and Barneys are a match. Let's wait and see...
  • Posted on: 02/11/2019

    Are apps and voice assistants the keys to e-grocery adoption?

    I don't like going to THE store, but I do it anyway. In fact, I find myself going to multiple stores for different specific items that I prefer. To me, the improvement would come in allowing me to prepare an accurate list (by store) and get out of the store as quickly as possible. We order some consumable staples online.
  • Posted on: 02/11/2019

    Are apps and voice assistants the keys to e-grocery adoption?

    Grocery apps and voice assistants will definitely play a larger role and should. There is much functionality that can be built to streamline and automate the otherwise lackluster and tedious chore of grocery shopping. Digital lists of items, the ability to price compare, IoT appliances that can keep track of usage, voice-activated ordering, and the option to pick-up in-store or get delivery are all doable and will experience increasing acceptance in the next three years. The grocery industry is ripe for these enhancements.
  • Posted on: 02/07/2019

    J.C. Penney dumps appliances

    Without knowing the numbers regarding appliances, it is difficult to be categorical. But if J.C. Penney wants to call itself a department store of the populous, it should carry appliances. Given her background in soft goods, Jill Soltau is probably more fond of apparel than of refrigerators. That happens sometimes, right or wrong.
  • Posted on: 02/06/2019

    What will Angela Ahrendts’ departure mean for Apple’s retail business?

    Apple will continue to thrive and lead retail's sales-per-square-foot statistic. The company's retail operation grew under Ron Johnson and evolved under Angela Ahrendts. The company appears to have its own DNA by which these management changes appear to go smoothly to the outside world. No reason to fear a change for the negative.
  • Posted on: 02/05/2019

    Walgreens tests tech that sort of recognizes you in-store

    This pushes the envelope of "cool." It will appear unnatural to the customer. Not a long-term offering in this form.
  • Posted on: 02/05/2019

    Are malls better off as fulfillment centers?

    The percentage of repurposed malls that end up as fulfillment centers is relatively small. Depending on the location and demographics of the area, a repurposed mall can become many other things (health clinic, life-style center, university branch, office space) and not necessarily a fulfillment center.
  • Posted on: 02/05/2019

    Will Target’s dynamic pricing strategy erode customers’ trust?

    This is s dangerous game to play with one's customers. Transparency is the name of the winning game. If a retailers feels that it has to charge different prices online vs. in-store the retailer can display that message clearly on the website, and even clearly in the store. Unannounced prices fluctuations for no reason other than proximity are sketchy.
  • Posted on: 02/01/2019

    Shopper technology opportunities are the focus of FMI Midwinter

    It is not going to be easy for traditional grocery retailers to recapture market share. Consumers have become more amenable to shopping in multiple locations, and online, to get what they prefer from the retailer that offers it. I believe that there is a "specialty" mentality that increasingly is taking over consumers' shopping habits, causing them to shop in multiple stores and online. Prepared foods and freshly-sliced cold cuts may be the categories in which traditional grocers can differentiate themselves. Campbell soup is still Campbell soup.
  • Posted on: 01/30/2019

    Is experiential retail overhyped and misunderstood?

    Except shopping for cotton candy, candied apples, pop corn, etc.
  • Posted on: 01/30/2019

    Is experiential retail overhyped and misunderstood?

    Product should come first, service should be right up there and some unusual experience ranks third. Let's remember folks, that experiential retail was here long before it had a name. FAO Schwartz single-handedly invented it in the toy business in the U.S. Haute couture stores have been offering super-plush environments with coffee, champagne, etc. for decades and that too is experiential. Putting in digital displays in certain stores for "his" entertainment is not brand new either. The Cabela's, Bass Pro Shops and others have been offering experiential retailing since they opened their doors. Retailers rush to embrace some of these new concepts and soundbites, sometimes pushing the envelope of practicality (like who needs this?).

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